By Don Valentine
Eighty years ago the Jungle Queen began giving tours on the waterways in Fort Lauderdale. This South Florida main-stay is a mandatory cruise to truly appreciate why the area is known as the Venice of the Americas. It opened in 1935 with a small fleet of boats giving tours up and down the New River. Al Starts opened this area land mark. After the war it was sold to Earl Farber. He made his claim to fame as vaudeville entertainer. He expanded the cruise to include a vaudeville show on the cruise. They would go on to include dinner cruise at night. Later they added a stop on the sightseeing cruise to their tropical isle. Since it opened in 1935 over 60 million people have enjoyed this fun cruise.
The cruise is currently narrated by a hilarious hostess who points out all the lore about the homes in Millionaire row. These mansions border on ostentatious. If you have never seen these homes you will be stunned. Everyone from Al Capone, Johnny Weissmuller to Wayne Huizenga and the owner of Wendy’s have lived in Millionaire row.
Midway through the tour you get to stop at the Jungle Queen’s tropical cay. This tropical hamlet is flush with wild tropical birds, lemurs and alligators. My highlight of the cruise was the alligator wrestling show. Believe it or not the alligator lost. Spoiler alert alligators can’t sense anything coming from be-hind them.
Sit back and enjoy a beverage while on the Jungle Queen. The cruise has a full bar. At the tropical isle you can have burgers and hot dogs. Yes, it also has a wide variety of drinks for you and the kids. If you have always heard about it and never taken the cruise you’re in for a great time. You will enjoy sightseeing of the lavish yachts on the intercostal waterway. These top tier vessels range in price from twenty to sixty mil-lion dollars. Talk about the life of the “Rich and Famous”. The Jungle Queen is a true “Must see in Fort Lauderdale.” A quaint way to see the Venice of America, relax, eat, and be merry. All on a unique cruise you’ll always remember.